When the New England Patriots opted to cut ties with Aaron Hernandez less than two hours after the star tight end’s arrest last week--and man did they cut ties, not only releasing him, but scrubbing his name from the official website and offering fans who had bought a No. 81 jersey from the team pro shop the choice to exchange it for another jersey of equal value--many around Dallas wondered if the Cowboys shouldn’t have approached the Josh Brent situation similarly.
If you’ll remember, Dallas went more or less the opposite way following the single-car crash in December that left practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, Jr. dead and the defensive tackle Brent facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter.
Team officials hoped aloud that Brent’s teammates would help guide him through this most difficult part of his life and even allowed Brent to stand on the sideline for the game against the Steelers.
Brent’s presence quickly turned controversial though, spurred on by the many shots of Brent on that Sunday’s telecast, and he left after the first half. The team announced the following week that he wouldn’t make any more such appearances in 2012, but they have yet to cut him or even address the issue much further. Instead, the team’s official stance is that they’ll wait for the legal process to play out before making a move.
Granted, Brent’s NFL future is a suddenly murky one, and we don’t much see the point in Dallas using a roster spot on a man who will very likely never play another down in the league. But any comparison between Brent and Hernandez is woefully reductive at best. Brent is charged with a dumb mistake--one that, unfortunately, many Americans make every night--that turned tragic. Hernandez, on the other hand, is charged with a calculated and violent act, one of which, we think and hope, very few are capable.
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